Quoted from dnapac:
And 15 years ago pinball was dying...all but dead. All fixes by techs, or not, were nothing but a shot in the dark. I'll take pinball today vs. then. All advances in tech have their risk. Maybe it's forgotten, and the one who've bought into it are screwed (beta vs. VHS), but advance is better than dead. A risk into the advance is always a risk. A risk on an established company (Stern), is better than a risk of a new...but still a risk...but a better bet. Chose your poison. I choose advance vs. stagnant.
No issues with advancements in technology.
However, the difference between the past (>15 years ago prior to the dawn of "modern age of pinball" which we say for generic reasons around 2000 after the closure of Williams) and today is five primary areas and quite profound:
One, the logic and design was made available by the manufacturers upfront with the release of the game titles from every major manufacturer
Two, the parts were still available in quantity for more than 10 years, not five years (or much less in some cases today), if a manufacturer remained in business.
Three, larger pools of qualified technicians were available to repair games based on an operator involvement.
Four, boards in many cases were interchangeable even between different systems or logic design was not radically different, but often improved.
Five, dedicated test kits were issued/purchasable to diagnose problems.
In periods of pinball "death", it was the collectors who kept pinball alive and moving forward not manufacturers to whom still existed, but in marginal form.
There can be no direct correlation from the leap of electromechanical to solid state electronics (1976) because the systems are uncomparable based on a complete concept of operational redesign, other than the fact the manufacturers provided full diagnostics of even EM games made between the 1960s and 1970s.
Present Stern (and other manufacturers using similar SMD technology) games have become only two steps away from a home model machine similar to what has been attempted repeatedly in the past at the earliest days of solid state design, notably cheap and disposable. The SPIKE system specifically is a modification of the board designs Stern used for their "The Pin" homemodel games in order to control the added necessary features. This controller design went BACKWARDS from SAM and WhiteStar board designs in attempts to further reduce costs with no added benefit to consumers or operators. There was no noticeable advancement and improvements or any robust nature of RSD (Reliability-Serviceability-Durability) of games, and everything that was provided as a "benefit" in reality was smoke and mirror marketing. The only reason the company was able to pitch this successfully was out of lack of individual knowledge/experience, and a weakened operator market. Almost to the point it seems they preyed on certain levels of lack of information, which to me is unacceptably unscrupulous. I only offer my educated perspective.
The reality is certain applications of new technology CAUSE death of application, such as pinball devices, if improperly executed.
The simplest example of this with SPIKE is removal of proper voltage fuse overprotection, and failure of design any heavy duty engineered tool, or equipment. This is unbelievable in any coin operated amusement device "designed for commercial use".
If an individual is spending now in excess of $10K+ on an individual piece of technology (pinball or anything else) with "undercooked" control designs, I would think this would be of important major concern for purposes of longevity.
Pure acceptance of this aspect of "it is just the way it is" is just propagation of the continued problem.
Owners should not be so carefree, or they may find it bites them in the butt very soon, as some have already discovered the difficulties.
Pinball machines are not Android phones, although there are continued attempts to move in this direction.
Consider this example.
If a person buys a car (new or used, it does not matter), and two years later, takes it to dealer (or qualified auto mechanic) that requires repairs and this is the response they receive from the technician:
"I would like to fix your car, but the parts are NLA, and we really don't understand how the original manufacturer designed the parts and how they worked. Sorry. Would you like to buy a new car instead?"
In the world of pinball, many dealers are not designated "repair centers", they are simply distributors of games with little to no experience in these types of repairs and in the past at least acquisition of parts, unlike today, which further reduces availability. There presently are no "Stern SPIKE technician repair classes" which would be highly beneficial. Those days from the Bally/Williams classes from 1979-1995 are gone as well. Commercial pinball machines were never designated as pure "throw away devices" in history, as they were designed to last for at minimum of 10-15 years in difficult operating conditions, not gamerooms with minimal play. In home environments this length of time doubles or even triples, which is evident by games made prior to 1999. I can testify to this account with games that are well over 40-50 years old in my own home. When owners "modern" games partial failure rates have risen significantly (and bought new in box) in less than a couple years, that in an indication of a significant problem that in uncontestable.
Understanding, not pure reflection of the past, has benefits for predicting the future.
Enjoying pinball in the present is great, but for some it means enjoying pinball in the future as well, as collectors are the "caretakers" of these devices and provide generated interest for future enthusiasts when many others move on from pinball after "in season" as a fad is over. Otherwise, the games would not still exist. I have heard this pitched line many times before.
According to the latest propaganda, Stern is "focused on the barcade market and return of operators", but the nature of their designed electronics does not support the claim. Phone tech service does not constitute repair services either.